With conference play accompanying the turn of the calendar, Binghamton has one last chance to improve its non-conference record — Sunday afternoon against Cornell.
The Bearcats (2-10), who had not played a game since Dec. 11, were routed by Colgate on Friday night, 74-47. But the Bearcats have struggled on the road all year to the tune of an 0-7 record and a 20.9-point average margin of defeat.
At the Events Center, however, Binghamton is 2-3 with a one-point loss to Mount St. Mary’s.
Tommy Dempsey has said several times that defense would be crucial to his team’s success, given the offense’s dearth of weapons, and that should especially ring true against the Big Red (5-8), who are 5-2 when scoring more than 60 points. Binghamton is 2-1 when it has held its opponent below 60 points and 40 percent shooting, and Jordan Reed did not play in the 58-49 loss to Brown.
Statistically — according to KenPom.com — Binghamton has one of the least efficient offenses, but Cornell’s does not rank much higher. The Big Red have performed significantly better on defense, though, and the Bearcats will need to match — and likely exceed — Cornell’s defensive efficiency to win this one.
The Bearcats have been killed on the perimeter several times this season, with Friday night serving as the most recent instance. But Cornell, which does not have many deep threats, has shot 30.1 percent from three this year. There are obviously two ways to view this from a traditional standpoint — either Binghamton will see its three-point defense improve against an ineffective shooting team or the Big Red will see their percentage rise against an occasionally porous perimeter defense.
It goes without saying that Binghamton will be in trouble if Cornell finds its range early. The Bearcats will need to keep track of Nolan Cressler, Cornell’s only effective high-volume shooter (17-of-47 from three).
Tempo will also play a significant role in tomorrow’s outcome, as the Big Red rank No. 43 in tempo while Dempsey prefers a slower pace. Though Dempsey would eventually like to play faster, this year’s team is not built to run as much. Rayner Moquete has shown a liking for the transition three and Jimmy Gray and Reed have connected on a few alley-oops, but the Bearcats are best-suited for the half-court. If Cornell dictates the pace, the aforementioned trio will have to step up in transition.
Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.